Tag Archives: The Karakorams

EYE TOWARDS THE SKY

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my eyes and all is born again.

Once again I am in a mood to write. Once again I must clear my clouded thoughts. There is too much to write and say. Reading an article sent to me by a friend Trekking : Eye in the Sky, a story of a Czech photographer Petr Jan Juracka who traveled to Pakistan to break the world record in altitude photography. I wonder what drives a person to do what he does. At a point of time in his life, he jumps into the world of records. Why records are so important. The purpose is still not clear to me. Having said that I pay tribute to such people who bring with technology the wonder of nature in our living rooms. But I begin to think not what I must do more but to do once again what I have done before. Doing things again brings altogether a new dimension of what I have seen and done. The images which have been chiseled in my mind needs to be seen now with a pristine and unmarked eye. I think when you are moving to achieve an entirely different end with a renewed impetus to a purpose and passing through same footsteps the footprints though same but the whole abstraction of the purpose is redefined. I need not chose now what I must do. The finer details are not important but finding your limits of what can be done now against what was done 39 years ago is very interesting thought. It does bring back the intensity and the vigor but I want to challenge not what I did then but how I should do it now. Exploring nature was not one of my priorities then as I thought I was doing. Time has and will always define and redefine your clarity of purpose of what and how it has to be done. Inside me, I find myself as I am standing on a ledge. I am preparing myself to move ahead. I know I will not fall. I am absolutely sure. I must have a clearer vision of not what I will see but how I should see. It was a bright sunny afternoon way back in 1984 as I trudged along the Biafo Glacier on its left edge, the NE side to be more precise. Having crossed over the ever changing surface of the glacier with the members of Polish Latok 3 expedition who were straddled all along the glacier unperturbed but still moving with that unexpected thought in their minds as to how they would tackle the mountain they had never seen before. The only point of reference they had was an old slightly tattered corner of a picture which had turned yellow. None spoke English except one. So there was not much of excitement which could be exchanged. The weather was all they seemed to be concerned about. Rightly so as they always looked to those dark clouds rolling up and down the glacier but never completely lifting from the mountains. There were few patches of blue sky enough to allow the sunlight splash along the edges of the glacier. I reached the other side and was greeted with few patches of green grass. Was tired and decided to lay down. The still of the mountains except for occasional slides up on the slopes disturbing the supreme hush and tranquility. I removed my bag pack, moved it under my head and lay down. That moment was a moment of truth for me. I have never been able to cast away those images which since then have been etched in my mind. Hundreds of thoughts flew past and I remember none except the clear patch of blue sky. One can never describe the color of the blue. Something pure I think cannot be said or written in words. Today I once again have started to think like that. I am there yet I am not. I must, therefore, do something about it. I must change the way I am going there. I do not want it to be – The Eye in The  Sky. I want to be the eye towards the sky. I must see once again hundreds of Ibex freely roaming up high up on the dark craggy features of the Karakoram range. It made me though sad when I saw some carcass of dead Ibex. I wondered when a man would respect nature and let these beautiful animals roam free. Or maybe they were. It may have been a snow leopard which had made the kill. There then does come a thought that nature must keep its balance. We need not be the one to disturb it. The mountains we intended to march to were numbered  1, 2 and 3. Though these numbers are designed to set in motion so many activities and happenings in our lives yet we cannot see the exact number if there are no points of reference. They have no value or meaning in the wilderness. The elements must allow you to determine how you must judge these numbers. They define your future course of action, they must choose you without you knowing about it. I am once again beginning to determine my own numbers. The numbers I must fix. The time month the weather the season and the people I want to be in my adventure of discovery of another kind. I have yet to define the purpose. It is not as if I do not see that but it must link itself with TIME. You now see this is how it happens. Whenever I think of TIME I am clearer in what I need to do. I must now jump ahead of TIME and state that the skies will always be blue, the clouds will come and go. The rains and snow will fall. The glacier will melt silently. I must witness all that all over again. I must now plan for next year. When the fruit trees of village Askole blossom again. Must spend a night or two there and listen all over again the never-ending folk tales of the mountains where I once was an interpreter to an old very old story teller.

My Personal Selection of Top Views

I have not travelled to many places. Those I have been I have selected some of my favourite views. I am sharing this on my Blog for others to see and get inspired to see some of these memorable views. 

A TRANGO Nameles

A TRANGO GP

Nameless Tower (Trango Tower 6239m) top picture and right  and Left the Great Trango Tower 6286m lies within the Trango Group of Tower.

The Trango Towers are a group of granite towers. These towers comprise of some massive cliffs located North of Baltoro Glacier in Karakoram Mountain range.  During my trip to K2 in 1979, as a Liaison Officer with Reinhold Messner I had the opportunity to see it for the first time. It offers a breathtaking view of all the Towers from the Baltoro Glacier. The shape of Trango towers is cause of obsession within the climber community. There are dozen of routes up on all the towers.

a TRANGO-CATHEDRALS

p6

The Trango Tower Peaks lie NW of the Nameless Tower. The group of peaks perhaps offers a magnificent view and offers the toughest challenge to the climbers. The Great Trango Tower it is highest in the group with a height of 6286m. I love the angles and shape as well as the colour of rock face. I have knife painted this mountain and is available for the viewers to see in MY PAINTING picture posted also above

A G 4 7925 Meters-26001 Ft

Gasherbrum 4 – 7925m First Ascent 6 Aug 1958 by Walter Bonatti, Carlo Mauri

Baltoro Glacier is interspersed with some very high peaks. I rate Gasherbrum 4 as one of my favourite. It lies at the confluence of Baltoro and Godwin Austin Glacier near Concordia. It is the 17th highest mountain on Earth and 6th highest in Pakistan with the height of 7925m. It lies as part of Gasherbrum Group of mountains. Italian Climbers Walter Bonatti and Carlo Mauri. The best view is at sunset as shown in the picture above.

A PASSU

Passu on the Karakoram Highway

The view is seen from the Road Sust – Gulmit. Passu is a small village on the Karakoram Highway (KKH) approximately 15 kilometres from Gulmit and 150 km northwards from Gilgit. One cannot but stop to capture the view on camera.

A Shyok River

Shyok River

This picture has been taken by me in winter of 1999 when I was commanding the Siachen Brigade. I first heard the name of Shyok River in 1977 when a class fellow of mine named his son ‘Shyok’. I am sure he did not know then what Shyok River meant when translated in the local dialect. Yes! it literally means “The River of Death”. He still does not know as he lives in Germany and we have not met in a long time. It originates from Rimo Glacier and joins the mighty Indus near the place called Keris, a small village east of Skardu.

A TAHIR TOWER

The Tower in the picture has been named after me in 2000 and is called Tahir Tower. The picture has been taken by Jimmy Chin. A team of 4 climbers made the first ascent and as it was a virgin peak I was honoured by the team  member Steph Davis by naming it after me. The other three members were Jimmy Chin, Dave Anderson and Brady Robinson. The tower stands above a small village called Karmanding in Siala Sector of Siachen.

 

A K2 8611 M

K2 – 8611 M. First Ascent 31 July 1954 Lino Lacedelli, Achille Compagnoni

In 1979 I accompanied an Italian K2 Expedition led by Reinhold Messner. I was also his LO in 1978 when he attempted Nanga Parbat solo successfully. The view has been taken from Concordia. This is a magnificent view where the whole K2 detached stands out. This is a view, which mountain lovers cherish to see. Plan to go to K2 and in one ticket to K2 you will see the most beautiful mountains in the world these include Paiyu, Uli Biaho, Trango Group of Towers also called the Cathedrals, Masherbrum, Chogolisa, Mitre, Gasherbrum Group of mountains, Broad Peak and over 20 peaks around an area of 20 Square km over 7000m. Come to Pakistan and enjoy.

A TERRACOTTA Warriors

Terracotta Warriors – Xian CHINA

In 1974 a group of 4 peasants while digging a well uncovered the tomb. During my trip to Xian I met one of the 4 peasants. One of them has died a few years ago. These artifacts belonged to the first emperor of China (246 BC). Life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations are the star attraction of the museum. The museum covers an area of 16300 square meters, divided in three Pits. Considered the greatest find of the 20th Century.

 

A POTALA PALACE

POTALA PALACE – Lhasa Tibet- China

The palace is 13 storeys high with 1000 rooms, 10,000 shrines, and about 200,000 statues. It is 117 metres high. The external structure took three years to complete, while the interior furnishings took 45 years to complete. The Dalai Lama moved in the White Palace in 1649. The construction lasted until 1694 some twelve years after his death. The Red Palace was added between 1690 and 1694. I visited the Palace in 2014.  A must see place.

A H1

THE HUASHAN MOUNTAIN – Shaanxi Province

The mountain is located 125 kilometers from the City of Xian. During my visit to Xian in May 2014, I combined my trip along with the visit to the Terracotta Museum in Xian. The mountain has 5 Peaks each has a distinctive charm. I visited the West (Lotus Flower Peak) and North Peak (The cloud Terrace Peak). There are several Taoist Temples where many emperors took part in Taoist activities and sacrificed to the God of Mountain. Huashan Moutain is one of the 5 sacred mountains of China. There are scores of scenic spots. Cable cars are also available to West and North Peaks. The two-hour walk takes from West to North Peak.

A GREAT WALL CHINA

THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA

A well-known place,  and greatest sight in the world. My first visit was in 2004. The total length of Wall is 21,196.18 km. The wall is more than 2300 years old.

A GOMAL ZAM DAM

THE GOMAL ZAM DAM- South Waziristan PAKISTAN

Gomal Dam is an RCC gravity dam with a height of 437 feet. The dam site was first envisaged by four British officers of Royal Corps of Engineers in 1898. The dam construction was approved in 1963 by President Ayub Khan. The construction stopped on the outbreak of 1965 India-Pakistan War. in 2001 General Pervez Musharraf ordered its construction. The ground-breaking was held on 14 Aug 2001. While I was commanding a Division in Wana South Waziristan I visited the site in 2003. The dam located on a very narrow gorge. Present excellent view.

A DURBAR MAHAL

DURBAR MAHAL – Bahawalpur.

Darbar Mahal is a historic fort located in the Pakistani city of Bahawalpur; this city is deeply rooted in Asian history and is considered to be one of the most important trade and cultural centers in local history. The Mahal(Palace) itself is now with Pakistan Army, but its grounds are a popular tourist attraction; since they provide proximity and excellent view of the architecture that resembles that of the ancient Mughal Forts, and is on par with the typical fusion of East Indian and Arabic architectural techniques that were prevalent in the subcontinent during the 1800s. The Mahal was commissioned in 1904 by Nawab Bahal Khan. The Mahal was dedicated to one of the wives of Nawab. The construction was completed in 1905. This grand structure was my Headquarters when I  commanded the Bahawalpur Infantry Division from 2001 to 2002. The Army has maintained Darbar Mahal in matchless condition.

A Tibet TRAIN JOURNEY

To travel by Tibet-Lhasa Train remained a dream for me. In 2014 my wish came true and I travelled by this train from Xining to Lhasa, a journey of 24 hours covering a distance of over 1900 km. The length of the railway is 1,956 km (1,215 mi). Construction of the 815 km (506 mi) section between Xining and Golmud was completed by 1984. The 1,142 km (710 mi) section between Golmud and Lhasa was inaugurated on July 1, 2006. Passenger trains run from Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xining, and Lanzhou. To enjoy the virtual introduction to the train you should click this link — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvkNKfyTdhE

A Derawar Fort

Darawar Fort – Bahawalpur

Derawar Fort is a large square fortress in Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan. The forty bastions of Derawar are visible for many miles in the Cholistan Desert. The walls have a circumference of 1500 metres and stand up to thirty metres high. The fort was built by Hindu Rajput, Bhati of Jaisalmer. It remained in the hands of the Rajput Bhati royal family of Jaisalmer until captured by the Nawabs of Bahawalpur in 1733. In 1747, the fort slipped from the hands of the Abbasis owing to Bahawal Khan’s preoccupations at Shikarpur. Nawab Mubarak Khan took the stronghold back in 1804.

The historic Derawar Fort, the enormous and impressive structure in the heart of Cholistan. As you drive from the desert and approach the fort the bastions and the unique design of the fort catches your eye and one is overawed by its magnificence.